The migrant crisis that has long been making headlines in faraway states such as Texas and California has finally reached our shores, bringing with it strong emotions and reactions for many residents.

We have seen the protests and the social media posts filled with vitriol, fear, and misinformation, some of which have been directed at Housing Assistance. It’s reached a point where we feel the need to reinforce our mission and values within the local community, among you, our supporters, and with the media.

Like many of you, we too are frustrated by the strain historic federal immigration policies have placed on local resources, and we have written to our federal legislators to urge them to fully confront the national immigration issue. The influx of people to our region has not affected our budget. Our programs remain fully funded and intact, and we continue to work with key officials at the state and local levels to further support and secure housing for Cape and Islands residents.

The truth is this: the incremental increase in migrants across Cape Cod is not the problem. It’s the fact that 1,000 families are forced to leave our region each year due to a housing crisis that has caused a labor shortage and hurt our community. The origins of the housing crisis include a history of restrictive zoning policies and extraordinary market demand. Like other resort regions, families and individuals who are the working backbone of Cape Cod must compete in a housing market with summer residents that fuel our seasonal economy. We can, and must, change these zoning policies to allow for more housing development which will create jobs and help sustain our year-round economy.

In times like these, it’s imperative that we stand together as a community and not let fear and mistrust divide us. We need to remember that we are experiencing two parallel crises – housing and immigration – and while they may seem insurmountable, they are solvable problems. It will take patience, perseverance and kindness, because at the heart of these two crises are human beings that need our help.

We are a housing agency. Housing Assistance serves more than 6,000 people every year across the Cape and Islands in 20 towns and three counties. We respond to everyone who comes to us in need of housing. We do not judge the people who seek our assistance; we simply help them.

We invite you to stand with us and address the REAL issue: the severe lack of housing for the people who want to live here year-round and be a part of our economy and community. It’s why we created Housing to Protect Cape Cod, a coalition that now has nearly 1,000 members.

Please join us to be a part of productive and thoughtful change, not gossip and hearsay.